EU Challenges US on Online Gambling

Published September 19, 2008 by OCR Editor

EU Challenges US on Online Gambling

Dispute over American law enforcement appears headed for WTO.

A dispute over American law enforcement against European Union online gambling companies looks set to be fought out at the World Trade Organization soon, a spokesman for Europe's Remote Gambling Association said Wednesday.

Lode Van Den Hende told reporters in Washington there is a strong likelihood of the matter being sent to the WTO after EU officials wrap up their investigation into US enforcement of anti-gambling measures. He made the remarks while the EU delegation met with representatives of the US Justice Department and other government agencies on Tuesday.

Many publicly traded European companies, like PartyGaming and 888, withdrew from the United States after Congress passed the controversial 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which effectively banned Internet gambling by outlawing the transfer of funds from a financial institution to Internet gambling sites.

The European Commission began its investigation in March to find out whether the US had been particularly targeting European companies. EU online gambling companies claim they have lost billions of euros since the passing of the UIGEA.

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), who chairs the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, said the Europeans' concerns must not be ignored. "I am increasingly concerned that if these disputes are not able to be resolved, it will likely mean costly retaliatory measures will be taken against US economic interests," he said before meeting with the EU team.

An EU trade official, who asked reporters not to be named, said the EU team would make its recommendations public in November.

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